Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 10th 2023

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Propelled by clutch overtime wins, the Cincinnati Bengals host the streaking Indianapolis Colts in a matchup of surprise playoff contenders.

The Colts (7-5) won their fourth straight last week, beating the Titans on the road by responding to an overtime field goal with a touchdown for a 31-28 win.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew found Michael Pittman in the back of the end zone with 2:31 left in overtime to lift the Colts into the AFC South catbird seat. The Indianapolis quarterback, who began the season backing up rookie Anthony Richardson, completed 26 of 42 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bengals (6-6) are also coming off a road overtime thriller, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 34-31, on Monday night behind a brilliant game from their own backup quarterback.

The Colts will be getting a key player back from suspension. Defensive tackle Grover Stewart returns from a six-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s performance enhancement drug policy.

“I’m proud of the guys, man, like each and every week going out there giving their all,” Stewart said. “Being on this four-game win streak, you can’t ask for more than that.”

The Colts allowed 4.7 yards per carry in Stewart’s absence, 28th in the NFL, a full yard more on average than with him in the lineup. The Colts compensated for it in the pass rush with a league-high 30 sacks in their last six games.

“It’s kind of obvious but he definitely helps our defensive line and he’s a really good player,” added head coach Shane Steichen. “He’s a big-time player that is going to help us on Sunday.”

Cincinnati has pep in its step on the heels of the historic effort from quarterback Jake Browning at Jacksonville. Making just his second career start after Joe Burrow’s season-ending right wrist surgery. Browning completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 22 yards and another score, calmly rallying the Bengals from TD deficits of 7-0, 14-7 and 28-21.

“He just lit the world on fire,” head coach Zac Taylor said. “At halftime, I wasn’t sure if we had an incompletion, if the ball had hit the ground yet. I thought he managed the game beautifully well. He was aggressive with some of his throws.”

His 86.5 completion percentage marked the fifth-highest in a game in team history, and he became the 10th player in the Super Bowl era to throw for 350 or more yards while completing at least 85 percent of his passes in a regular season game.

For his efforts, Browning was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, the second Bengals quarterback honored this season. Burrow earned that award for a Week 8 win at San Francisco.

“I think his five incompletions were two drops, two throwaways and a tipped ball. So that’s pretty dang accurate,” Taylor said. “That’s kind of what we’ve talked about. When you have a backup quarterback, everyone has to raise their level of play. Everyone raised their level of play.”

Browning is now the NFL record-holder for accuracy in his first two career starts, the NFL said Wednesday, with a completion percentage of 81 percent. How historic is his start? The mark measured since the Truman Administration (1950) has been held for 21 years by Jets quarterback Chad Pennington at 79.3.

“I can watch Joe (Burrow) or whoever I’ve been behind do it a million times — it’s different once it’s you,” Browning said. “I was able to reflect on what my week was like and what I needed to improve. It was my first time in a live pocket in a little while.”

Ja’Marr Chase caught 11 passes for 149 yards with a 76-yard touchdown in the third quarter that gave Cincinnati its first lead.

Chase has now surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in all three of his NFL seasons, making him the eighth player in NFL history and the second in Bengals history (A.J. Green, 2011-13) to achieve that feat.

–Field Level Media

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